Many major cultural institutions have been looking to expand their reach in recent times, with satellite branches opening or under construction across the world: The Guggenheim Foundation leads the way as ever, with new divisions taking shape in both Abu Dhabi and, eventually, Helsinki. The Louvre is traversing borders for the first time, setting up shop in Abu Dhabi with Jean Nouvel’s huge dome-covered complex set for completion later this year.
Critics have suggested that this equates to ‘franchising’ art and culture, usually for economic or political gain. Apollo Magazine’s Lee Rosenbaum mused that the burgeoning Guggenheim Empire, in partnership with foreign governments and corporations, “is not about collaboration, it’s colonization.” The more optimistic view is that this form of cultural globalization helps to make art more accessible to the public, providing a rich civic hub that serves to educate and entertain in equal measure.
Given these polarized views, not to mention the logistical challenges involved in exporting institutions with such programmatic complexity, it is understandable that some organizations might prefer to dip their proverbial toe in the water with a series of more transient bases: pop-up galleries are in vogue, with the Pompidou in Paris announcing their intention to launch a series of temporary branches across France.
Recent history is full of such ventures: consider this your quick guide to cultural pop-ups across the planet. Be ready to travel great distances, because we are about to go global…
Berlin: Temporäre Kunsthalle
Berlin’s Temporary Art Hall opened in 2008, presenting a series of contemporary exhibitions for a period of two years. The minimalist interior of the structure acted as a blank canvas for all manner of experimental installations, including painting, graphics, digital media, and performance art. Meanwhile, the external envelope became something of an architectural chameleon, with artists transforming the building’s façade numerous times throughout its existence on the banks of the River Spree.
Hong Kong: Mobile M+
M+ Museum in Hong Kong established Mobile M+ as a means of exploring different was of presenting art to the public, without the need for solid walls or even a permanent location within the city. They hold exhibitions of artworks which would not be possible within conventional museum spaces, a great example being their latest show ‘Inflation!’ which sets gigantic blow-up sculptures against Hong Kong’s dense forest of concrete apartment blocks. Proof, perhaps, that contextual architecture can occasionally provide an even more striking backdrop for art than the white walls of a gallery…
Mumbai: BMW Guggenheim Lab
As well as their headline-grabbing permanent buildings, Guggenheim have also experimented with transient spaces: their lab opened in 2011 as a form of urban think tank, has toured from New York City to Mumbai via Berlin. In India, the pavilion’s raw palette of bamboo and twine was chosen as a deliberate move away from the polished brand of contemporary architecture associated with its namesake. Indeed, the lab’s creators — Guggenheim curators David van der Leer and Maria Nicanor — were quick to dismiss the idea that this was a museum in the traditional sense, declaring it “a new hybrid, a place where we can learn from each other.”
Malaga: Pompidou Pop-Up
As well as expanding across France, the Centre Pompidou has revealed ambitious plans to "pop-up" all over the world, with temporary museums proposed for Mexico, Brazil, Russia, India and China. Their first international outpost to come to fruition is in Spain, with a museum in Malaga set to open next month and exhibit artworks until 2020. The satellite gallery was designed by the city’s Planning Department, who look to have gained inspiration from across the Atlantic: “El Cubo” bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple’s landmark store in New York City.
London: Tate Pop-Up
Commuters travelling through London’s Old Street tube station last year were greeted with the unexpected sight of the Tate logo, as the giants of British art expanded underground in an attempt to attract a passive audience to their brand. While the space operated primarily as a retail offshoot, the Tate Collective also ran a series of events that brought art out of the gallery and into the paths of the unsuspecting public — including a Matisse-inspired collage workshop, a life drawing class, and a screening of everyone’s favorite font-based film, Helvetica.
New York City: Photoville
Photoville popped up in 2012, established by United Photo Industries with the aim of giving a platform to some of the city’s finest young photographers. The original event comprised around 30 shipping containers, with an artist exhibiting in each, situated along the bank of the East River and accompanied by an incredible backdrop in the form of the Manhattan Skyline. Support from numerous major partners — including Instagram, naturally — has enabled the entire experience to be kept free for the public, and its latest edition in 2014 attracted over 70,000 visitors.
The Angry Architect